Friday, October 17, 2008
MINE of GOLD
During the Rotary District Conference, some Rotarians arranged for the other Ambassadorial Scholars and I to go down into a working GOLD MINE. We went over 2 kilometers down. It takes extracting over 2 tons of ore to get even 5 grams of gold, so we didn't exactly see a lot of it --- the picture with us pointing is supposedly at something that might be gold. We weren't really convinced. It was incredibly interesting and I am so glad that we had the experience of going down. Much of South Africa's wealth has come from the mining industry, and going down to see how people work was ridiculously eye opening. It was over 104 degrees down there and so deep that we had to pop our ears (like you do when you scuba dive) because of the pressure. It was DARK and WET - there were rats and the the toilets were disgusting. Over 2000 men were working underground the day we went down - just unbelievable.
One of the more memorable moments was just about half an hour before we went down. We were talking to the safety instructor, and suddenly the whole earth tremored. We all looked around in panic, asking - WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS THAT? He replied - oh, don't worry, it was just a seismic event. Oh, ok - THAT doesn't worry us. But we went down anyway. It took nearly an hour to get all geared up. You can see from the pictures-- we were in full body suits, belts, protective glasses, ear plugs, face mask, helmet with light, battery pack, life saver pack (in case of explosion(!), knee pads, huge rubber boots (just like yours Rarthur!) and gloves. And remember, it was over 104 DEGREES down there, with all of that on. I cannot IMAGINE working like that everyday - truly.
Needless to say - incredible, educational experience - one that I will never forget.